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Weigh in on the scooter pilot with new city survey, and at tomorrow’s Active Trans meetup

Scooter riders on the Lakefront Trail (not part of the pilot.) Photo: John Greenfield

Lately there hasn't been a lot of in the news about Chicago's West and Northwest side dockless electric scooter pilot, which is probably a good sign, suggesting that there may not have been any serious injuries or major headaches lately. The program wraps up on October 15, which means it's time to start evaluating it and considering whether we want rental e-scooters to be available citywide. Fortunately, there are two great opportunities for residents to provide input.

Active Transportation Alliance's Scooter Feedback Night

Streetsblog Chicago is co-hosting this discussion of what worked and what didn't at Revolution Brewing's Kedzie taproom, 3340 N. Kedzie, tomorrow, Wednesday, September 25, 5:30-8pm. Two free beverages and food will be provided. RSVP to this free event here.

Most of the time will be for casual conversation, but Active Trans will have some posters set up where folks can share specific feedback, plus information about how to complete the group's own 10-question scooter evaluation survey, which has gotten almost 1,500 responses so far. The survey is also available in Spanish. Everyone who completes the survey is eligible to win a $100 Visa gift card. Around 6:45 p.m., Active Trans staffers and I will say a few words about how the pilot is going. While I've been a bit of a scooter skeptic myself, I promise I won't be too curmudgeonly.

New city of Chicago scooter survey

Today the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection  and the Chicago Department of Transportation, which are running the scooter pilot, announced the launch of the E-Scooter Pilot Program Survey, designed to help the city understand ridership and evaluate the impact of scooters on the community.

“The City of Chicago encourages everybody to take this survey, whether or not they have ridden a scooter during the pilot program,” said BACP commissioner Rosa Escareno in a statement. “We have been proactively enforcing the strict regulations and engaging regularly with the companies throughout the pilot, and will continue to do so over the last month as we work to increase mobility across our communities and prepare for the evaluation of the scooter pilot. Regardless of your opinion, we want to know what all Chicagoans think about scooters in your city."

In addition to the survey, the city's evaluation of the pilot will be based on feedback from local community groups and other stakeholders, ridership data, injury reports from Chicago hospitals and information on complaints from the community. enforcement data and feedback from city departments involved in the pilot management will also be taken into account.

“With nearly 675,000 rides completed in three months, it is clear that there is demand for scooters in Chicago,” said Kevin O’Malley, CDOT Managing Deputy Commissioner. “Total ridership, however, is just one of the many factors we will be taking into account to evaluate the pilot, along with safety, the impact on residents, particularly individuals with disabilities, operator performance and the impact on our transportation network.”

Most of the ten scooter companies involved in the pilot haven't had  a perfect track record when it comes to the pilot rules. BACP recently issued 25 citations to nine companies for violations based on field enforcement and data provided to the city. These citations come with a maximum fine of $1,000.

The following citations were issued:

    • Failure to Respond to Complaints Within Two Hours – Bird, Bolt, VeoRide, Wheels
    • Failure to Be Responsive to Concerns 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week – Bird, VeoRide, Wheels
    • Failure to Collect Scooters at Night (citation issued based on data feeds) – Sherpa
    • Failure to Have Cash Option on Website – Bird, Bolt, Sherpa, VeoRide
    • Failure to Submit Accurate and Complete Data – Bird, Bolt,  grüv (2), JUMP, Wheels, VeoRide
    • Failure to Affix Brochure to Scooters – VeoRide
    • Failure to Have Operational Bell – VeoRide
    • Failure to Have Illuminated Front Light – Wheels
    • Failure to Have Website, Email and/or Phone Number on Scooter – Lime, Spin, VeoRide

This enforcement effort brings the total to 39 citations issued against nine companies since the beginning of the pilot. Lyft, which is the city's Divvy concessionaire, and therefore presumably was on the inside track when it came to the scooter rules, was the only company not to receive a scooter citation. Lime was only cited for the minor violation of failure to have a website listed on the scooter. All other companies have received at least two citations.

The pilot program evolved over the summer. Changes included the city requiring the companies to hang modified flyers from their scooters, create a Scooter Feedback email address, and use geofence to prevent riding on the Bloomingdale Trail. The city has also also creating a Safe Riding Video and partnered with the companies to offer Learn-to-Ride events with CDOT’s Bicycle Ambassadors.

“Chicago’s scooter pilot represents a thoughtful approach to testing scooters in our city,” said Sharon Feigon, director of the Shared-Use Mobility Center. “I welcome the evaluation of this pilot to see if scooters can provide a long-term sustainable, affordable and convenient alternative to cars.”

In addition to the survey, BACP encourages residents to email with general feedback and comments on the program to help the City’s evaluation of the pilot. For issues in immediate need of resolution, call 311 or reach out to the vendor to correct issues such as improperly parked scooters, scooters outside of the zone or any other pressing problems.

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